1. A reputable breeder requires that pet-quality animals be spayed or neutered. Be wary of breeders who do not mention altering.
2. A reputable breeder requires a contract, which varies from breeder to breeder, but usually spells out the rights of seller and buyer, health information, altering and buy-back/return policy.
3. A reputable breeder shows a general interest in, love for and knowledge about the breed. He or she cares about placing puppies in good homes and will often interview potential buyers thoroughly, ask for references and refuse to sell a dog if necessary.
4. A reputable breeder will guarantee a puppy's general health for a certain period of time (which varies from state to state under puppy lemon laws). While no one can guarantee against inheritable diseases, a reputable breeder is well-informed about genetic problems in her particular breed or bloodlines, routinely has dogs/pups tested for problems and passes this information along to buyers. Beware of breeders who scoff at genetic testing and say their particular breed/line is problem-free.
5. The environment (kennel or home) in which the breeder keeps the dogs should be clean and well-maintained. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS ON THIS!
6. A reputable breeder is actively involved in the dog fancy, including showing or breed clubs. While there are exceptions--a retired individual who has shown dogs for 20 years--a person who is not involved with others in the breed can be suspect.
7. A reputable breeer is willing to provide answers to questions you may have and is willing to privide names of others who have purchased pups.
8. A reputable breeder will allow you to meet the puppy's parents if available and, if the father isn't available, be willing to show pictures.
9. A reputable breeder follows up on puppies. He or she is interested in how the pups develop physically and mentally, difficulties in the owner/dog relationship and health problems.
10. A reputable breeder rarely has more than 4 litters a year.